BUCKHANNON — Throughout the year, places all over Upshur County find different ways to honor the memory of those service members who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
This Memorial Day, like many before it, is an important and highly celebrated holiday here in Buckhannon, as well as many communities across West Virginia. The town has had the honor of many veterans residing in the area and living their final moments here and locals continue to find various ways to honor the memories of those heroes.
Memorial Day, previously called Decoration Day, is a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Although the holiday was previously observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970, Memorial Day is now observed annually on the last Monday of May.
Many people visit cemeteries on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Volunteers often place an American Flag on graves of military personnel. This tradition is still honored here, by local organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and fire departments. One of the many cemeteries visited in preparation for Memorial Day was Heavner Cemetery. Flags can be seen speckled all over the graves of fallen soldiers. A few entry ways are also lined with flags; however, on the hill waves a tattered American Flag flown proudly in honor of all those who served.
One local artist has taken the time to hand draw and paint a mural in honor of heroes. The mural, painted by Lee Eskew, is located at Selbyville Volunteer Fire Department and can be seen during their regular bingo nights. The mural is surrounded by pictures of people who were not only veterans of war, but also members of the Selbyville VFD. Almost every branch of the military is represented on the wall, apart from the U.S. Coast Guard. The members of the department expressed they are extremely honored for this piece to be a part of the firehouse.
“When a man or woman signs that bottom line, that contract, they are saying they are willing to pay with their life— which many have—and that takes courage,” stated Arthur Wilson.
Ahead of the upcoming Memorial Day, volunteers gathered and helped Create Buckhannon hang nearly 700 Walk of Valor banners in Jawbone Park. The banners are typically on display throughout the summer, from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. Led by Create Buckhannon, the project now includes an estimated 690 banners. Groups of volunteers of all ages stopped by to help Create Buckhannon members hang the banners recently.
Create Buckhannon thanked TKS for allowing them to utilize two lifts to install the banners, as well as the City of Buckhannon for providing another lift and assistance from employees, and the many volunteers who showed up to help. They also thanked Pop’s Furniture for providing cold water for the group. The banners will remain up and the community is encouraged to stop by and view the years of service represented on them.
When the holiday comes to an end, take time to remember that this three-day weekend came at a price. Honor the Sons and Daughters, Mothers and Fathers, friends and loved ones are no longer here to celebrate as the lives of these fallen heroes should not be passed by without acknowledgement.
In the powerful words first uttered by Korean War veteran Howard William Osterkamp, of Dent, Ohio, who was a recipient of the Purple Heart, “All gave some, some gave all.”